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By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 25, 1989


Susan Seidelman
Emily Lloyd;
Peter Falk;
Dianne Wiest;
Jerry Lewis;
Michael Gazzo;
Brenda Vaccaro;
Adrian Pasdar
Under 17 restricted

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You remember Emily Lloyd. She was the teenage firebrand flashing her knickers to scowling oldtimers and cheering bus drivers in the British movie "Wish You Were Here." In Susan Seidelman's "Cookie," the firebrand dons a leather jacket, sports an American accent, fills her mouth with gum and struts around New York.

No, this is not "Madonna: The Early Years." It's a father-daughter screwballer, between unruly punk-princess Lloyd and racketeer-pop Peter Falk, who's having second thoughts about this blood-thicker-than-water thing. "Cookie's" not as crunchy as Seidelman's "Desperately Seeking Susan," or as scrumptious as Jonathan Demme's gangster comedy "Married to the Mob," but it still sweetens the palate. Lloyd is as precociously appealing as ever and Falk, well, he's Columbo.

Just out of the slammer after 13 years, Falk wants what's his, which means retrieving the money "business partner" Michael V. Gazzo filched off him, as well as marrying Lloyd's mother, moll-in-waiting Dianne Wiest, who's been leafing hopefully through bridal magazines (and raising Lloyd) for more than a decade. But Gazzo has other ideas about the dough and the feds have no intention of letting Falk run free. Time for Falk to come up with a plan, stop butting heads with his daughter and let her do the driving.

Speaking of driving, Seidelman seems to have too loose a grip on the wheel and too light a foot on the accelerator. With the help of screenwriters Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen (both adept with one-liner retorts and quirky grumblings), she seems content to go for the jokes, not the momentum.

You meet Falk's wife-of-convenience Brenda Vaccaro, who runs a dog-grooming salon -- with stolen dogs; Adrian Pasdar as Falk's handsome-and-eligible bodyguard Adrian Pasdar; character actor Lionel Stander as the Big Don; and Jerry Lewis as an Atlantic City real-estate developer friend of Falk's, who helps his pal but not so much the plot.

Despite self-imposed speed limits, there's nothing unpleasurable about the ride -- although you might catch yourself wondering how many more Italian movie families you have to meet who get their fur coats from the back of a truck.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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